Our trusted drama teachers are well-trained, highly experienced and know the Helen O’Grady curriculum inside out.

Gareth Corke (he/him) | Principal + Drama Teacher.

Hiya! I’m Gareth.
I have been involved in drama and acting all my professional life; but even before that- it was drama at school and youth theatre in my spare time, that triggered my love and fuelled my determination to build a career in the performing arts.

Before becoming your HOGDA Principal, I had a long and pretty successful time, acting in plays in London, touring too - both nationally and internationally. I’ve been a regular and made guest appearances on all kinds of programmes and channels including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Netflix and radio. I’ve also been in films and commercials broadcast all over the world and even a cheeky music video or 2! It hasn’t stopped at acting- I have also worked as a theatre and screen director, agent, set designer and acting teacher over many years now.

As a teacher, I worked with arts education companies all over the UK, specifically running drama classes and projects in inner city and rural schools, and departments of acting and performing in colleges and universities with all ages as well as training other teachers and adults to improve their acting and communication skills. I really believe drama is the key to amazing powers of speaking and influence which means I never stop learning! I look forward to getting to know you better over the next year; and learn what brilliant things you can do.

There are such exciting times ahead for all of us, so let’s … GO FOR IT!

Michael Burnie (he/him) | Senior Drama teacher

Hello everyone! I’m Michael.
I have been energetically teaching and nurturing Helen O’Grady students into confident performers since 2005. And I love every minute!

I’m also an accomplished actor and director and when not in mentor mode, direct full-on shows for the Brighton Theatre Group like this year’s run- away summer success Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’ve led productions of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, West Side Story, Hairspray, and Legally Blonde as well as choreographing things like the European tour of Hair… this year I start preparations for The Addams Family (which will be ghoul-tastic!), Sunset Boulevard and Saturday Night Fever.

So, I suppose you could say I’m a bit of a musicals fan! I’ve found acting and drama is as important in musicals as singing and dancing- and telling a good story should be made up of all kinds of interesting characters. One of my favourite roles has to be my stint as Mr Bump in TV’s The Mr Men.

What will your favourite character be? I can’t wait to find out!

Sasha Danswan (she/her) | Drama teacher

G’day! I am Sasha,
I have come all the way from Australia to teach drama here in the UK!
I used to be a pupil at Helen O’Grady in Oz when I was younger, so I can’t wait to come back and relive the excitement and creativity of a HOGDA class!
I have a passion for theatre directing, and I have been lucky enough to direct, manage and perform in many shows in Australia and here in the UK including work with young performers and fellow enthusiasts.
I am just about to complete a BA Hons Theatre degree at Sussex University this year, so I am very excited to bring all that knowledge and passion to my classes, our awesome plays and curriculum. What will your favourite character be? I can’t wait to find out!

Kerri Hedley- Cheney (she/her) | Drama teacher

Hello! I’m Kerri.

I’ve loved acting for as long as I can remember and was lucky enough to join a drama academy at the age of 11 where my passion for theatre and live performance flourished.

I've been involved in theatre and entertainment throughout my life and have played some amazing roles even winning awards for some!  Studying drama gave me the confidence I needed to get a job at sea where I spent 10 years travelling all over the world.

Acting, theatre and drama is honestly the most fun, fulfilling and joyful thing on earth and the friendships you make are so special. As I started at a drama academy myself, I love seeing our Helen O’Grady students finding as much joy in drama as I did!!

Acting...It’s simply the best

Gemma Corke (she/her) | Drama teacher

Hiya I’m Gemma!

I’ve loved drama and acting for as long as can remember. As a child, I begged my mum to take me to drama lessons at my local theatre and those days were my favourite of the week. My brother was into acting and so I was not alone in exploring all things drama at school and college.

I have four children (count them- four!) who also have a great love for drama. I feel fortunate to now be able to work with other children both in the school environment and in performance skills alongside Gareth at Summer School Sussex.

By giving young people stage awareness and confidence in performance (whilst having a brilliant time) the Helen O’Grady system offers the perfect combination to becoming a well-rounded person.

Jonathan Daly (he/him) | Finance Officer + Vice Principal

Hello everyone.

When I was younger, living in Glasgow I was part of my local youth theatre and amateur dramatics company. After a few shows as a backing dancer, I discovered being back stage and running the show was much more my thing!

This continued through college and my career running my own retail business and managing healthcare professionals like opticians and dentists. You have to be very organised to do my job and sometimes it can be a bit samey, which is why I’m delighted to be part of something as exciting as HOGDA!

This year we will be expanding the locations of our classes in Sussex so that you will have greater access to a HOG Academy near you .

I hope to see you all soon at the shows and if you have any queries re: payments or fees then please feel free to contact me.

Khola | Chief Canine Consultant

I’m Khola -the office dog.

My favourite things are chasing balls on rope and eating all the socks I can find. I’m good at running and jumping and making you tickle my tummy on command.

If drama is about exploring- then I’m an expert! I can crawl down low or jump up high, crash into the waves or snuggle and hide on the sofa (it’s easy I just cover my eyes with my paw).

Woof luck and welcome to the HOGDA Sussex family!

Parent Ambassador

If you’d like to become a Parent or Student Ambassador (Youth Theatre pupils) and join our ambassador scheme, please get in touch sussex@helenogrady.co.uk.
If you’d like to know more about my brilliant team- just ask!
Gareth (your Principal).

What people say about us

Throughout the 6 years of attending HOGDA Drama Academy, I have loved every second of it- from joining when I was 10 years old to leaving at 16. I used to be a very diffident, quiet person before joining, and now I’ve found myself to be quite the opposite. I think this is to a large extent thanks to my experience at HOGDA. Through HOGDA not only have I gained confidence that will stick with me for life, but I have also made some amazing friends along the way. I used to never think I’d have the guts to perform on stage Infront of lots of people, but the atmosphere provided by the HOGDA team and being able to perform with people I got on with really well really made those performances turn into happy memories that I’ll cherish forever. The teachers made every class very enjoyable and inclusive. 

I have done a fair few HOGDA summer schools during my time and that’s been a memorable experience, getting to know other people from different groups that share the same passion as you. This academy allows us as students to be creative and gain confidence.

From Anna aged 16

My son’s drama teacher at Helen O’ Grady has been a huge inspiration to him. The lesson has benefited him in countless ways and he enjoys and looks forward to every lesson. He would go every day if he could!

Natasha, George’s mum

I would highly recommend both the drama classes and the summer school. The teacher is great with the kids – they love her – and she works hard with them to put on shows they are proud to be part of.

Julie-Anne, Noah’s mum

Eva has loved coming to drama classes. She is always keen and reports that she has had fun. The teachers are really warm and friendly and they have a great rapport with both the children and the parents.

Jon, Eva’s dad

See us in action!